Tag Archives: scam

“Did You Send This?”

On Sunday, I received an email, purportedly sent by my client, “Leigh.” Sometimes friends, family, and even clients will send me friendly email links to online greeting cards, games, or other social networking services. Perhaps this was one of those?

leigh

The email in question.

The message came from interaction@zorpia.com, with the subject “Leigh wrote a message for you.” I had no idea what zorpia.com was, so I went to the site.

zorpia

Zorpia.com’s sign-in page. I didn’t rush to join just yet.

There wasn’t much to it, but it certainly looked real. I dug a little deeper, finding the Wikipedia entry for it.

Zorpia (Chinese: 若比鄰) is a social networking service, popular in India and China. Zorpia is one of the few international social networks with a Chinese Internet Content Provider license.  The social networking site reports 2 million unique users per month and a total worldwide user base of 26 million.

So, good. It’s real. And a bigger deal overseas than here, but okay. But is Leigh a member, and she’s using it to send me messages? Something didn’t smell right.

So I did what I usually do when I get an unexpected email with a link. I don’t click the link. Ever. Instead, I emailed Leigh at her primary address.

Dear Leigh,

I just got an email from Zorpia.com that claims to be from you. Did you send me something there? If so, I’ll go ahead and click the link. If not, you might want to check and see if you have an account with them that is being used without your permission.

She wrote me back promptly: “I did not send this. I receive one from my sister and clicked on it. What should I do?”

As I learned after a little research, clicking the “message” linked in the email automatically accesses your computer’s contacts list and sends this “auto-join” message to everyone you know. Not unlike a virus.

Luckily, since it’s not technically a virus (that is to say, other than spamming your contacts list, it likely won’t do any other harm to your computer), there is a method for stopping it in its tracks.

First, don’t click the link to read the message, naturally. Second, there is a link that’s okay to click. At the bottom of the message, it reads, “Block future emails like this.”

I clicked it, and this is what came up:

optout

And hopefully that will be the last I hear from them!

 

I replied to Leigh that she do the same, and to advise her sister of that step as well. It won’t unring the bell of Leigh’s contacts getting a phony message, but as long as everyone exercises common sense and practices safe internet, no further harm should be done.

A reminder: if you aren’t 100% sure of the origin of an email (and heck, even if you are), go ahead and reach out to the “sender” by phone or an alternate email address. It only takes four words to help keep your computer (and address book, bank data, etc.) safe:

“Did you send this?”

And until you hear back, don’t click the link. I’d even say to go ahead and delete the email. Worst case, your friend did send it, and they are slightly inconvenienced, having to re-send their cute online card or whatnot. Serves them right for not telling you to expect it in the first place. ■

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Halloween Spook-tacular: Don’t Fall for Scare Tactics!

In the Halloween spirit, I wanted to address what’s frightened some of my clients over the past few years: the “tech support” scam. It comes in two forms: a phone call, or a pop-up box on your computer screen.

The Call

Most commonly, this comes in the form of a phone call claiming to be from Microsoft, or even just “Windows,” or “Tech Support.” My advice is to err on the side of not believing them. The simple fact is that no computer company will ever call you unsolicited, no matter what shape your computer is in.

If you have any doubts, here is the actual number for Microsoft phone support: 1-866-425-4709. You can say to the scammer who’s called you, “Oh, thank goodness for your call, but I can’t talk right now. I’ll call Microsoft right back. I have the number.” Warning: they may curse you out or even threaten you, but remember that their phone center is likely on the other side of the globe. You can also just hang up, per the advice on this page: “What Should You Do About the Windows Tech Support Scam?”

Microsoft even now has a page to report a support scam: https://www.microsoft.com/en-US/reportascam//

8867-microsoft_5f00_logo_2d00_for_2d00_screen

If they don’t say they’re Microsoft per se, here are the support numbers for some of the major PC manufacturers. Write yours down or print it, so you have the number handy:

Acer: 866-695-2237

Apple: 800-APL–CARE (800–275–2273)

Asus: 888-678-3688

Dell: 866-795-5597

HP: 800-752-0900

Lenovo: 855-253-6686

MSI: 888-447-6564

Samsung: 800-SAMSUNG (800-726-7864)

Sony: 888-476-6972

Toshiba: 800-457-7777

If your brand isn’t on this list, or if the number I’ve provided doesn’t work, please contact me so I can update the list.

Here’s one more resource, from the U.S. Federal Trade Commission: https://www.consumer.ftc.gov/articles/0346-tech-support-scams

The Pop-Up

A phone call is a nuisance, but when you know it’s a scam, it’s easy to end or ignore. A pop-up is more challenging, as, depending on the severity, it can interfere with your ability to use your computer altogether.

You can read about the various pop-up scams here: https://malwaretips.com/blogs/remove-tech-support-scam-popups/

In some cases, the pop-up is just a nuisance on your web browser resolved by quitting the browser and cleaning out your cache. You can refresh your cache following the steps here: http://www.refreshyourcache.com/en/home/

If it goes away but you’re still concerned, I recommend running your antivirus/anti-malware program of choice. On my Mac, I use BitDefender Virus Scanner. Mac users can download it for free here: https://itunes.apple.com/us/app/bitdefender-virus-scanner/id500154009?mt=12

Click the logo to download BitDefender for Mac from the Mac App Store.

Click the logo to download BitDefender for Mac from the Mac App Store.

In Windows, I regularly update and run MalwareBytes Anti-Malware, available for free download here: https://www.malwarebytes.com/mwb-download/thankyou/

Click the logo to download the program.

Click the logo to download the program.

If it comes back, follow the steps on the page I linked earlier: https://malwaretips.com/blogs/remove-tech-support-scam-popups/

Mac users have a similar procedure here: https://discussions.apple.com/docs/DOC-8071

You can also reach out to the FTC and file a complaint here: https://www.ftccomplaintassistant.gov

Click the logo to file a complaint with the FTC.

Click the logo to file a complaint with the FTC.

Finally, I would be remiss if I didn’t recommend calling a tech support provider you know and trust. I take comfort knowing that my clients know to call At Home With Technology first, before calling any other phone number they see.

Because it’s only fun to be scared when you want to be.

Happy Halloween!